26/08/16 The Construction ‘On the one hand… On the other hand’

e-legal lesson

The construction on the one hand… on the other hand serves to bifurcate a list of three or more items. And it does so in two different ways.

To indicate which conjunction has scope over the other
When in a string of three nouns, verbs, adjectives, or adverbs the first and second are separated by and and the second and third are separated by or, or vice versa, the meaning varies depending on which conjunction “has scope over” the other. One way to clarify that ambiguity is to use on the one hand . . . on the other hand.

To divide a list into two categories
On the one hand . . . on the other hand is also used to divide between two categories a list of three or more items using and as the only conjunction.

Used unnecessarily
But more often than not on the one hand . . . on the other hand is used when it’s not needed – in other words, it’s used even when a list doesn’t need to be bifurcated.
Similarly, one sometimes sees on the one hand . . . on the other hand used to group three or more parties to a transaction, just as drafters used to use party of the first part . . . party of the second part. But this is unnecessary.